“As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world.” (John 17:18)
Do you feel that your world and your life are speeding up? Do you feel that culture is changing so fast and so often that you are often perplexed by new words and new ways? You are not alone. Unless a person lives in one of the increasingly rare environments where information technology has not yet penetrated, cultural change is an urgent, harrying, nettlesome and demanding force in most people’s lives today. Ubiquitous smart phones alone are revolutionary. St. Nikolai Velimirovich offers two interesting thoughts on this subject:
“Technology is deaf, mute, and unanswering. It is completely dependent on ethics, as ethics on faith.”
“We must be super-conservative in preserving the orthodox faith, and super-modern in propagating it.”
The article below links to resources that identify, describe and explain various cultural trends at work in our society. The challenge for every church worker and priest is to articulate in meaningful and relevant ways the life and teachings of Our Lord Jesus Christ as understood and experienced in the Holy Orthodox Faith. This is not possible without some awareness of the present culture. Anchoring oneself in the good news of Holy Scripture, the liturgical life of the church, the teaching of the fathers and fellowship with other believers allows a safe and objective investigation of present cultural trends. For how else can we speak to those living in the present culture if we do not understand the language of the present culture?
Current Events And Religious Media
In her award-winning weekly radio show, On Being, Krista Tippett explores the intersection of theology and human experience through conversations with compelling and challenging theologians, scientists, academics and significant cultural personalities. The website houses podcasts and archives of past shows and an interactive blog that features informed guests writing on issues of culture and faith.
Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly offers distinctive, cutting-edge news coverage and analysis of national and international events in the religious world as it explores how issues of faith, religion and ethics shape both national and international events. The website includes archives of past show transcripts, streaming video of weekly reports, related articles dealing with significant issues, lists of related resources, audio and video podcasts, and a collection of viewer’s guides with essays, discussion questions and resources.
The Religion Newswriters Association website is devoted to promoting excellence in media coverage and public discourse about religion. As part of its mission, RNA sponsors sister websites that offer windows into significant contemporary issues and debates about faith and culture, and currentreligion headlines.
Data On Religious & Cultural Trends
Faith Communities Today (FACT) is the educational arm of an ongoing consortium of researchers and religious leaders who work cooperatively to survey the memberships of more than 25 American religious groups to identify common and distinctive as well as constant and transitioning demographic, faith and practice dynamics. The site’s data reports on changes in religion since 2000 and identifies common issues across faith communities.
The Hartford Institute for Religion Research produces rigorous, policy-relevant research that anticipates emerging issues and pursues creative ways to disseminate findings, including integrating them into courses taught at Hartford Seminary. Among its work, the institute has produced groundbreaking studies on women clergy, the implications of the Internet for religious life, the role of church websites, and changes in seminary and denominational structures and concerns.
The purpose of the ongoing National Study of Youth and Religion is to research the shape and influence of religion and spirituality on the lives of American youth; identify effective practices in the religious, moral and social formation of youth; describe the perceived reach and effectiveness of the programs religious communities offer their youth; and foster an informed national discussion about the influence of religion in the lives of youth. Begun in 2001, the survey completed its third wave of study in December 2010. From the website you can access interpretive reports, articles and multimedia presentations, as well as a list of for-purchase publications based on the data.
Conducted in two waves (2001 and 2008-09), the U.S. Congregational Life Survey is the largest and most representative profile of worshipers and their congregations ever conducted in the U.S. Results reflect contemporary congregational life, including insights into how worshipers experience and connect with their congregations. A unique feature of this study is the opportunity for any congregation to self-administer the survey and return it to USCLS for a complete report, including valuable comparisons to the benchmarks established by the national surveys.
Opportunities To Learn More About Religious Trends
The primary work of the Center for Congregations is to assist the churches of Indiana to become the best they can be by providing educational opportunities and material that reflects contemporary society. Articles and postings highlight exemplary youth ministry, introducing drama into worship, understanding the missional church, and more
The National Congregations Study gathers information on an ongoing basis about a wide range of characteristics and activities of America’s congregations. Data is collected on congregational social composition, structure, activities and programming. The website offers access to the raw data through a set of filters that you can combine to develop custom tables of results exploring questions that interest you.
The African American Lectionary punctuates the wider liturgical calendar with resources that draw out the African American ecclesial tradition, highlighting those moments that creatively express the joy and challenges of being both African American and Christian. By addressing contemporary issues in African American life, the site’s resources shed light on trends and concerns within a segment of American culture.
The Association of Theological Schools is an organization for administrators of schools of theology. However, because member schools report their enrollments, programs of study, finances and development programs, the site is a repository of ongoing data about who is attending professional schools of theology, how those schools are adjusting their curricula to meet the needs of culture and students, and how they are faring as schools with a specific professional focus.
Archives, Data And Commentary About Cultural Trends
The Association of Religion Data Archives provides easy access to the most trusted information on American and international faith practices, housing more than 500 historic and contemporary collections of data on religion. Included are church membership and demographic reports; worldwide national and regional profiles; survey findings on the beliefs, behaviors, affiliations, attitudes and experiences of religious Americans; and more, including interpretive articles on the site’s blog, Ahead of the Trend.
Resources for American Christianity is an archive site that helps Christian church members, leaders and scholars understand the impact, trends and trajectories of Christianity in American society by providing access to information from and reflection on selected research projects funded by the Lilly Endowment Inc. Explore the clusters of projects and products, essays, interviews and study guides, and newsletters listed under the “Overview Resources” tab.